Al Gore is a serious man confronted by a political system that is not open to a serious exploration of important, complex issues. He knows it.“What politics has become,” he said, with a laugh and a tinge of regret, “requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I have found in short supply.”
So, why doesn't Al run? The first answer that came to mind yesterday, as that question floated throughout the blogosphere, was so negative and unforgiving that it didn't seem right to break the euphoria by mentioning it.
Fortunately, Bob Herbert had the same thought and wrote about it for today's Times. In short, we don't deserve Al Gore. The fault, fellow brutes, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.
The first thing media types wanted to know was whether this would prompt Mr. Gore to elbow his way into the presidential campaign. That’s like asking someone who’s recovered from a heart attack if he plans to resume smoking.
Mr. Gore, who won an Academy Award for his documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and an Emmy for his cable TV network, Current, knows better than anyone else how toxic and downright idiotic presidential politics has become.
He may be one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, talented men in America and remarkably well-equipped to lead the nation, but it’s Mr. Bush’s less-than-curious, less-than-distinguished son, George W., who is president.
... For all of the obvious vulnerabilities he exhibited in 2000, it was not him but Mr. Gore who was mocked unmercifully by the national media. And the mockery had nothing to do with the former vice president’s positions on important policy issues. He was mocked because of his personality.
In the race for the highest office in the land, we showed the collective maturity of 3-year-olds.
In other words, it wasn't done to us, we did it to ourselves. Sorry, but that's true. Until a solid 55% of American voters are willing to add at least two decades to their collective maturity, we're going to have Bush after Bush after Bush. We'll continue to claim it's "their" fault, but it's really ours.
Mr. Gore knows the system is in trouble, and not just because of the way he lost in 2000. The last time I spoke to him, a few months ago, he said: “Having served in the White House with the Gingrich Congress, and having watched the best of intentions so often turned into small changes ballyhooed as revolutionary, sometimes having no lasting mark, I really do believe that fixing the dynamic of democracy is an urgent task.”
That’s just the kind of thoughtful comment that can’t get a real hearing in our sound-bite politics. The result is that reality, untidy and complex, is almost always trumped by well-crafted phoniness.
Welcome to the world we're leaving you, dear grandchildren.